Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch By Bill Yao (CANCELED) - Discussion Thread

Thread: Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch By Bill Yao (CANCELED) - Discussion Thread

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  1. #1
    Moderator Emeritus Crusader's Avatar
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    Unhappy Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch By Bill Yao (CANCELED) - Discussion Thread

    By JohnF and Crusader

    How to begin? Well, we guess the best way is to simply say what needs to be said, and then fill in some background.

    We - i.e. "JohnF" and "Crusader" - have been kicking an idea around for quite some time, and have decided, despite all the turmoil in the world, despite all the worries we all have about the economy and our jobs, that it is time for some righteous WIS action here on Watchuseek. Something to brighten our spirits, to rekindle the flame, to help us fight the fight in our lonely vigil against the darkness.

    Herewith let us announce the brand new, spanking fresh and the one and only: A-11 project.

    That's right: this is the official start of the A-11 project, to create the best, most accurate and kick-ass homage to "The Wristwatch That Won The War", the A-11, built by three US manufacturers (Elgin, Bulova and Waltham). No, to at least our great disappointment, none of these companies are around anymore to create us this homage (at least not in a meaningful way), so we put our heads together and came up with what we both think is the very best company to make this unique homage:

    Bill Yao of Mk II Watches

    You've read that correctly: Bill is on the project with us. He will incorporate our designs, work with them to create a viable homage to this watch that will both respect the original design and update it for modern-day use. He's the best man we can think of - and those of you who have his watches will, I think, tend to agree - and his involvement underscores how seriously we've been working on this behind the scenes. An A-11 homage needs a strong American Connection, and Bill Yao has worked hard to become the best in homaging military watches of the past

    This isn't a watch that will be ready for Christmas (not this year, anyway ). Heck, this isn't a watch that's going to be ready for Easter! This is a watch that will take time to make because we're going to make it right. No stock cases, dials and hands are available for an A-11 homage, so we need to design and build the watch from scratch.

    And it's going to be a Watchuseek watch: it's going to be offered, initially, in a limited edition with the Watchuseek logo and name, placed subtly, underscoring how this watch is, more than anything else, our watch. Not some mass-produced pseudo-"limited edition" that merely stamps a number on the back and says "how many did you want of this again?", but rather one that everyone here can start here with and accompany to the final delivery.

    Here are a few pictures of an original 1944/45 Elgin A-11 which we think could serve as reference watch for the project (courtesy of Watchuseek member river_rat - thank you very much!) :










    Here are some of the basics that are proposed for the project:

    manufacturer: Mk II Corp. (Bill Yao), USA
    approx. diameter: 38-40mm (upscaled from the original 32mm, a small watch); approx. height: ~11-13, mm depending on crystal
    German-made stainless steel case, designed from the original casing and adapted to the larger size
    lug width: 20mm (the most versatile lug width), lugs drilled-through
    dial: matte black with white numbers, no date
    hands: white, lume to be determined (original had none!), central sweep second hand
    movement: automatic ETA 2824-2, Rhodium plated, Incabloc shock protection, Elaborée grade, fully decorated including Geneva stripes on the rotor and signed MkII, metal spacer ring
    water resistance: 100m, no screw-down crown
    crystal: double-domed sapphire, inside AR-coated
    strap: period style canvas
    box: really cool packaging (ok, a cardboard box that looks the original boxes used to store these watches)
    Watchuseek special edition: Limited edition of 100; specially engraved caseback (similar to the original); dial (and possibly crown) with Watchuseek name or logo (subdued print)
    price range: US$ 500 to 650
    deposit amount (to be made to Bill Yao's separate Paypal account a-eleven@mkiiwatches.com, and fully refundable until the design is finalized and sampling begins, or if we do not collect the required 100 pre-orders): US$ 275
    production time: about one year from official launch, so we have a good chance to have the watch in hand by Christmas 2009.

    Now, before we all get hot and bothered, now the logistics: Bill will build the watches, and at the end of the day he will decide what is feasible and what isn't.

    We will need to collect 100 deposits before we can start signing up suppliers and begin the project in ernest. To maximize our chances of delivery in the 2009 we need to hit the 100 pre-order mark by December 31st 2008. The balance will be due before the watches enter final manufacturing ca. in May 2009.

    That said, let the discussion begin! There is a separate thread on the A-11, on both the historical and on technical aspects of the watch, and we'll start up reservation procedures right now (with deposit, but fully refundable as noted above).

    Let's get started!

  2. #2
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    Re: Proposal for a Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch In Collaboration With Bill Yao

    Jan: 2/100 and 50/100, thank you!
    Only 97 to go!

    Is a COSC certified movement a possibility?

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    Re: The Wristwatch Which Won World War II: The A-11, An American Watch Icon

    Is this thread also for the discussion of the design, or will it be done on a separate thread?

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    Re: The Wristwatch Which Won World War II: The A-11, An American Watch Icon

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    Is this thread also for the discussion of the design, or will it be done on a separate thread?
    As long as we don't know how solid the interest is in the homage watch, please use this thread also for design comments of the homage watch. If the volume rises, we can always separate the thread later on.
    Cheers,

    Martin ("Crusader")

  5. #5
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    Re: The Wristwatch Which Won World War II: The A-11, An American Watch Icon

    Hi -

    Agree with Martin here, let's keep everything in this thread: we can separate out later.

    Just a couple of words on the basic philosophy that Martin and I are taking here (if I may be so presumptuous to speak for Martin): we're interested in a homage to a watch that, while based on a fairly restrictive military specification of the time, did see a number of iterations (Elgin, Bulova and Waltham did their own versions of the watch). The important thing in designing this is to keep true to the spirit of the design, as can be seen, basically, in the pictures that RiverRat was so kind to allow us to use.

    JohnF
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    Re: Proposal for a Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch In Collaboration With Bill Yao

    Superb project guys - a real boost for WUS and a great chance to add something truly unique to a collection.

    Minutes are the Milestones of Aviation - Fred, in 'Fools and Birds Fly'

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    Re: Proposal for a Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch In Collaboration With Bill Yao

    I shall assume the dial will be the Elgin/Waltham pattern no the Bulova pattern, as railroad tracks are a bit over done these days.

    Will the name be in black on black just like the originals?

    If the knurling is to kept on the front, will the case be a real three piece case?

    The crown will have to be huge to keep it in proportion to the case, over 8-1/4 mm.

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    Re: Proposal for a Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch In Collaboration With Bill Yao

    Hi -

    Yes.

    Yes.

    Yes.

    There will be no 1:1 scaling, as that would violate more than a few design principles. Such a large crown would make it unwearable (would dig into the wrist when worn!), but we'll work out something that makes sense.

    JohnF
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    Re: Proposal for a Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch In Collaboration With Bill Yao

    I see that the suggested movement is an automatic, nicely decorated.
    I would like to be able to buy an engraved exhibition caseback too.
    This movement is a nice one.
    Very exciting Project MKII !!

    If no 2 will be free in the future, (prospective buyer might change his mind) I would like to have the first option on it!

    Wow, having an important watch"hommage" from both sides of the conflict!

  10. #10
    Yao
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    Re: Proposal for a Special Watchuseek A-11 Homage Watch In Collaboration With Bill Yao

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    I would like to be able to buy an engraved exhibition caseback too.
    This movement is a nice one.
    It might be available. We will actually be making 200 cases as just 100 wouldn't be cost effective. The other 100 will be "Mk II" cases and I am seriously considering the idea of using an exhibition back.

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